Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Favorite Thing

Mmmmmmmmm. Cookies. Nothing makes a kitchen smell better. Girls covered with flour, frosting and the smell of baking adds to my list of 'favorite things'. Gabby smiles with tell tale chocolate at the corner of her mouth. Sydney stands looking into the oven watching the cookies grow and brown. Me? I wait the to claim the first, warm, broken cookie. Once more the kitchen offers new memories in the baking, er, making.

The Loxley girls were not allowed to cook in my mother's kitchen. When Mom cooked, her daughters set the table, retrieved the condiments from the refrigerator and served those sitting at the table. After the meal, the girls were given the task of washing the pans coated with grease and dried mashed potatoes and piles of dishes left by the field hands now full of Mom's great cooking. No, the Loxley girls did not find delight in the kitchen.

Something changed in my mother as granddaughters joined the family. It was not unusual to find Jobi or Stacey standing next to Mom on a chair learning to cook from the pro. Since their mothers hated cooking, it was a good thing.

It's hard to be a mom when you don't know how to cook and really don't care to learn. My family was fed, but time in the kitchen for me needed to be at a minimum. Teaching my children to cook wasn't part of my agenda. My lack of luster in the kitchen became the mantra encouraging my children to pick up the spatula. Stacey is a natural cook using the 'pinch and dash' method. My son, James, loves to cook creating his own dishes. I may not like to cook, but I love to eat meals they prepare. And, yes, I offer to do clean up.

For this Grammy to spend time in the kitchen with her granddaughters is pushing me out of my comfort zone and into the 'let's make memories' mode.

"What do you girls want for dinner?" I often ask.

"I'll cook dinner, " eagerly exclaims Sydney.

Wow, my mother never heard those words. At eleven she takes on the cooking with gusto. Gabby is soon joining us in the tiny kitchen asking for a task as well.

"I can stir," she calls to me on her way to get her stool.

Soon pans lids are clanging and yummy smells are filling the kitchen. It is a good thing happening amid the steaming pasta and bubbling sauce.

"You can each make your own cookie dough," I informed the girls before Christmas.

Soon two big bowls of chocolate chip cookie dough sat on the kitchen counter. Enthusiasm grew as the first two batches were placed on the wire racks. Cookie sheets into the oven. Cookie sheets out of the oven. After the second batch, I noticed that I was the only one shoveling cookies. The excitement of breaking eggs and stirring the dough had passed. First warm cookies had been eaten. The sink was full of bowls, spatulas and measuring utensils. Memories of dried mashed potatoes in Mom's old aluminum pot stood before me once again.

"Hey, whoever cooks gets to help clean up," I shout in an enthusiastic voice.

"I'll wash," cries Gabby on her way to retrieve the stool.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, cooking with granddaughters and warm woolen mittens...these are a few of my favorite things.

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